This article was written by Suzy Geppert, former SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Partnerships Field Specialist.
We are always in search of opportunities and programs that will allow youth the chance to recognize, understand and appreciate diversity and multiculturalism. It is even better when they use hands on experiences that allow them to grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership. One exciting way for teens to do this is through 4-H Youth Exchanges.
4-H Youth Exchange programs were developed as a tool to help youth reach their full potential as future leaders in communities as well as workplaces. Exchange programs are a series of learning experiences in which individuals from a club, community or county visit in the homes/communities of 4-H members in another geographical area, and are visited by them in return. Counties usually host a group one year and return to visit the homes/communities of their guests the following year. Exchanges mobilize volunteers and communities to meet the needs of youth by creating non-formal, educational opportunities to help youth thrive in a complex and changing world; allowing them to problem solve and plan through various life skill development opportunities utilizing the 4-H Guiding Principles.
4-H Guiding Principles
The purpose of the 4-H Guiding Principles is to provide direction to the programs that we do in 4-H. Our goal is to have our 4-H programs reflect these principles.
- Youth develop sustained relationships with peers and adults that nurture their positive development.
- Youth will learn more and participate more fully when they feel physically and emotionally safe. A structured yet flexible environment encourages honesty, trust and respect among all youth and adults.
- Youth are actively engaged in their own development through a process of identity discovery and awareness; youth increase their personal competence and sense of well-being.
- Youth are encouraged to actively participate in their development and there are opportunities for youth to learn and develop.
- Youth experience and learn from hands-on educational opportunities that help them develop the skills they need to be successful adults.
- Youth recognize, understand and appreciate diversity and multiculturalism.
- Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership and they feel included and involved in their communities.
South Dakota youth have significant roles to play and important contributions to make as stewards of the future. Youth develop personal competencies that foster leadership, caring and citizenship.